Why Auto Dealer Showrooms Should Appeal to the Over-55 Crowd

If you’re in the automotive industry, I have an important bulletin for you: your showrooms need to appeal to the over-55s!

This isn’t just my opinion. A survey of 2,000 UK drivers from InsuretheGap.com found that more than 55% of auto shoppers still buy their car from a showroom, but this total increases to 64% of over-55s.

New Trends in Car Shopping

The trends are clear: younger shoppers are getting more comfortable with new ways of buying cars, specifically dealer websites, online marketplaces, and online retailers. 

While still a small percentage at about 10%, more younger shoppers say they are happy to buy a car that they’ve never seen or taken for a test drive. 

So, what does this emerging trend mean for you and your business? It means your showrooms must cater to the over-55 crowd. Here’s why.

1) They have always bought cars in person.

Older shoppers are accustomed to buying cars in person at the dealership. There’s a familiarity there for most older car buyers. 

And with the world finally starting to turn the page on the COVID-19 pandemic, the over-55s will feel safer to return to dealerships than they have the past few years. 

As long as you provide them with a quality customer experience, they have no reason to change the way they shop for a car.

2) They have the disposable cash to buy them.

According to a study from Statista, the average weekly household expenditure on vehicle purchases in the UK was 40.50 British pounds a week for the 50-to-64 age group. Compare this to the under-30 crowd, which spent just 22.80 British pounds a week.

Clearly, people in this age range will not just buy “a car” – they’ll buy a more expensive car! This trend does start to drop off after 75, obviously, but you still have a significant range of older people with disposable cash that your dealership can appeal to. 

Given they have the money to buy more expensive vehicles, it’s an excellent idea to make them a priority, and investing in your showroom is one way to boost sales from the over-55 crowd.

3) They appreciate the perks that come with showroom purchasing.

There are a lot of perceived perks that come with showroom purchasing, such as:

  • Part-exchanging their vehicle
  • Getting a warranty
  • Enjoying better consumer rights
  • Going for a test drive
  • Negotiating a deal

Some of these are possible online as well, but there’s a sense of security in being able to get all of these at your local dealership, particularly with the personal touch of a trusted sales rep. And in many cases, it’s easier to do all of this in person.

With that said, if you want people to continue to buy from your showroom instead of just shopping online, you need to make sure your showroom is worth the driver’s while to purchase there. 

That’s where I have some suggestions that can help!

Building a Destination Showroom

Think for a moment: Why would a customer come into the dealership? What would draw them to visit in person, rather than buy online?

Well, let’s start with the customer experience itself. How many times does one of your customers get sat down in the showroom with a cup of coffee and told to wait for the next available salesperson to come over and hit them with a high-pressure sales pitch? Do you treat each new customer like a person or a product?

If I were a customer looking for a car at the dealership, here are some of the things I’d want:

  • Exclusive information and demonstrations that I can only get in person.
  • No used car salesmen pressuring me to make a purchase before I’m ready.
  • A fun diversion that makes the car buying experience feel momentous and special.

In practical terms, you must start thinking of the showroom itself as a “destination.” With the trend toward online shopping, your car showroom is no longer somewhere the customer has to go – so it needs to be somewhere they want to go!

Along with how you treat your customers, you should also consider the overall style of your showrooms. Too many UK showrooms still have a white, stale atmosphere from a past era – it’s important to liven it up to get people excited about visiting the dealership again!

In many cases, that means “cool” technology, but this goes beyond adding a few digital screens and calling it good. You need to rethink all of the elements that make up the showroom so you can transform it into a must-visit spectacle or event for your shoppers – something that can’t be replicated online. 

Here are a few of my ideas on the “showroom of the future.”

The Showroom of the Future

At James Hogg Display, I’ve had the privilege to both pitch and work with all kinds of dealerships in this industry. What I’ve found is, showroom designs that might work for one dealer could be a bad fit for the next one.

But to create that destination showroom, it’s important to expand what you think a true “car showroom” should be. Here are just a few of the items that can make your showroom shine:

  • Presentation theatre. Imagine a vivid LCD video wall with narrow bezels and more than a dozen panels. This key showroom feature can show off promo campaigns, reviews, and film studio creative to dazzle in-person shoppers.
  • OLED drum with 360° viewing - Place beautiful moving images on the outside of the drum and static images on the inside. The OLED drum is an immersive and state-of-the-art digital experience that will wow your customers. 
  • Deal builder kiosks and interactive tables - Bring electronic shopping to the showroom with lectern-style or wall-mounted digital multi-touch consultation booths, or object identification tables. Make it easy for your customers to research and browse their options in person at your showroom.
  • 3D Video Car Project Mapping - Bump up the flashiness with a jaw-dropping display projected onto a car to get customers excited about your latest offerings.

3D Projection mapping on car - Carmapping Peugeot 208 in Geneve - Videomapping Hungary

As for one of the biggest objections that people have about shopping in person – the stress of being sold to – this “showroom of the future” approach allows you to provide alternatives to the perceived “high-pressure salesman.” 

Deal builder kiosks blend the offline and online experience, allowing customers to visit while still getting a choice on how they want to shop when they arrive. Ultimately, you need to engage with the customers who actually buy cars in person – keep your focus on making it an experience they’ll love!

Car Showrooms for Over-55s: Wrap-up

Clearly, there’s still a lot of demand for car showrooms from people of all ages! But they want to be able to shop on their own terms, and that means upgrading your showroom to compete with the convenience and ease of online car shopping.

I, James Hogg, have plenty of experience working with UK automotive dealership and dealer groups, so I’m happy to consult if you want to learn more about how to future-proof your showroom. Please reach out anytime!